Labor of Love

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When it came time for Aubree Robinette, BSN/RN, to choose a hospital to give birth in, she kept it close to home, so to speak: Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen — where she works.

“Having a baby is a very personal thing,” she said. “I trust the doctors here. I trust the people I work with, so I know, regardless, that they would take good care of my baby.”

Just like her coworkers were a part of her baby’s beginnings, Robinette says she enjoys the opportunity to be involved with other new lives through her role at Valley Baptist’s level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

“What I’m most proud of is I get to be a part of a baby’s life and I get to see them go home,” she said. “The best part is when the parents bring them back. When we have a little, tiny baby that was maybe just 1 pound and maybe three or four months down the road, the mom brings them back and they’re happy and they’re chunky and they’re healthy. Then we’re like, ‘OK, we did our job.’”

The NICU is one of many draws Valley Baptist offers to expectant families.

“Having a neonatal intensive care unit in house is a big plus for this hospital,” said Dr. Alejandro David Barrera, OB/GYN. “If, in any event, their baby needs special care, mom can always come and visit the baby in the unit so they don’t have to be separated.”

Minimizing separations between newborns and new mothers is essential for a number of reasons.

“The more that the mom and baby are together, the more it’s easier for the mom to breastfeed,” said Anisha Corona, RN, of Valley Baptist’s Mother Baby Unit. “We also have a lactation consultant that’s always available to help the mom breastfeed and to help the mom bond with the baby more. I know that if the baby does have to be transferred, that’s time that the bonding will never get back — especially the first few hours.”

Valley Baptist’s Couplet Care is another initiative that paves the way for mothers and babies to spend more time together. This supports bonding, skin-to-skin contact, and breastfeeding.

New parents can also look forward to care from a dedicated neonatologist — a pediatrician who specializes in the care of premature or other babies who require essential care.

“A lot of places have general pediatricians taking care of their newborns and that’s totally fine,” said neonatologist Fernando Soarez. “When they come here, I see not only the very sick babies, but I also see those well babies. If there’s anything that perhaps an untrained eye would not be able to detect, again, you would have a neonatologist seeing well babies upstairs in a well baby nursery.”

Having a neonatologist on staff means immediate response to serious situations.

“Time is critical and when we have an in-house neonatologist 24/7, they’re always available within minutes,” Barrera said. “And when I say minutes, that’s minutes — not 10 minutes, not 30 minutes, a few minutes. They’re right next door.”

Soarez credits the teamwork of the entire medical center for the level of care Valley Baptist is able to provide new families.

“There’s no way I would be able to take care of all the babies here without having a strong nursing staff,” he said. “I also have a dietician that specializes in the nutrition of the newborn at my disposal. I have a pharmacist that helps me also make sure that the dosage that I’m giving does not exceed a level that we think is safe. We have different programs that allow us to calculate and make special IV nutrition for babies customized for that particular baby for that particular day.”

Before their little ones arrive, expectant parents can visit Valley Baptist.

“Valley Baptist offers in-house tours prior to delivering so the patients have the opportunity of coming and looking at the rooms and looking at the equipment that we have and getting to meet our nurses so when the time comes, they already know — they feel like they’re at home,” Barrera said. “It’s always good to know where you’re supposed to come to. Knowing where to go at that time is always a plus.”

That level of preparation also goes into prenatal consultations with the neonatologist.

“Before even she goes into labor or before even her following admission for when she comes to have her baby, she can speak with a specialist and give her some sort of guidance on what potentially can happen and what to expect,” Soarez said.

That can help new parents mentally prepare themselves for the possibility that their infant could be admitted to the NICU. It’s a jarring thought even with the high level of care available of the 38-bed unit. Thankfully, Valley Baptist patients can expect kind, empathetic, and professional attention from doctors and staff.

“We treat all our patients as family,” Corona said. “Our patients are always our number one priority. Our patient satisfaction scores — especially on this floor — they’re always really high.”

Samantha Robbins, RN, recalled recent feedback she received while discharging a patient.

“She told me she’s been here a few times already in preterm labor and she expressed to me she was very happy with the care she received here. We made her feel better about her pregnancy,” Robbins said. “For me, that means that we are making an impact. We are making a difference in a mother’s life.”

From excellent patient satisfaction to advanced infrastructure and facilities, Valley Baptist offers parents-to-be and others in the community a good choice for care.

“I think if they’re looking for a place for high-quality care — something that’s beneficial to mom and for baby — I think this is the place to be,” said Dr. Ruben Torres, department chair of the OB/GYN Department at Valley Baptist. “I really think that we have services here that are second to none for the rest of the Valley.”

Learn more about Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen by visiting ValleyBaptist.net.  Schedule a tour of the birth center by calling (956) 389-5254.

What was your experience like welcoming a new member into your family? #JoinTheConversation at facebook.com/rgvisionmagazine.